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Babysitting this Weekend, Any Suggestions?

We are part of a really cool group of people that hang out to board game whenever possible.  We also take turns hosting potlucks and dinner parties pretty regularly as well.  One of those friends and his wife haven’t had 3 days in a row to themselves for more than 12 years!  Holy moly!  So I will be taking care of 3 kids from Friday morning through Sunday night…

How Did I Get Into Babysitting?

Well, our friend asked me about a month ago to see if anyone could babysit this coming weekend since his regular go-to sitters weren’t available.  He has a 6 year old little girl, an 8 year old boy, and an 11 year old boy.

The only special circumstance is that the 11 year old is autistic, but he is actually the most laid back kid of the group.  I’ve been around him for half days two or three times now.  The only thing that seems different is that he can get really, really focused on something to the point of it being almost obsessive.  Like rules or making sure something was worded correctly.  But anytime it’s happened around me, I just distracted him with absolutely anything else for a second and then he moved on.  He’s just a normal little guy that sometimes has what feels like a brain glitch over specifics.

I asked our friend what the pay would be so I could pass it along to the group.  It’s $12 an hour during the day and $6 an hour for 8 hours each night.  That comes to nearly $700 since they needed someone from 6am Friday morning through midnight Sunday night!  That is a lot of babysitting…but it also is a nice chunk of change.

I Threw My Hat in the Ring

I let him know that I would cover it for sure, and that I would ask around to see who else would help me out.  He was so excited that he’ll get real time with his wife!  That made me smile.  But I also thought I could split a couple of days with other friends and the weekend would be a little easier.  Well, no one else is free this weekend, so it’ll just be me.

I babysat all through middle school, high school, and occasionally throughout college and these past 10 years.  So I am ready for this weekend, but it was a little unexpected that I’ll be handling it alone.

Before anybody yells at me for taking money from a friend, he is supplemented by the state for babysitting expenses like this once in a while because of the autism.  It’s called “respite care” money to allow parents of children with disabilities to get a little time away each month.  But they haven’t been able to get any time away for a while, so it has built up enough to cover a 3 day trip.

Ideas for the Weekend

I’ll be staying at their house the whole time, so I know we’ll have access to their normal activities.  There is a swimming pool (and life jackets), a netted trampoline, and their pets (a dog and 2 cats…lots of Claritin for me, lol).  I also know that they can play a few board games already and have a ton of coloring supplies.  The kids also know how to operate the tv and dvd player.

My general plan is to get them outside in the morning and late afternoon using the pool or trampoline.  In my experience, half the battle of watching kids is making sure they have ample opportunities to burn off energy.  During the super sunny parts of the day and at night, I’ll see what they want to do inside and take it from there.

I know I don’t need to actually keep them entertained 100% of the time since they all are a but autonomous already.  I also made sure my friend and his wife know that I will consider this a complete success as long as their kids are alive and their house is still standing by the time they get home.  I definitely am setting a low bar.  :-)

Side Notes

I do have 2-3 people on call that will drive up if necessary.  They just didn’t want to babysit the whole weekend.  So if there are any problems at all, I’ll have all of the parents’ info, my husband, and a couple of friends that have promised to help if needed.  I’ll let you know next week how this turns out.

Also, my plan is to use the money from this weekend to pay for an 11 day trip in September to visit a couple of great blogging buddies out in Utah and Portland.  I’ll be spending about 5-6 days in each place and just turn it into a blogging buddy adventure.  I’ll let you know how that pans out too.

What would you suggest for a 3 day babysitting extravaganza?

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7 comments to Babysitting this Weekend, Any Suggestions?

  • I don’t know much about boys, but 6 year old girls love to make things. If you have a bunch of buttons or craft stuff or anything like that,even painting rocks can take hours. I think that’s great to give the parents a break. No non-relative would probably take three kids all weekend, so I would not feel bad about getting paid. Best of luck.

  • Pool, wiffle baseball, walking the dogs, going to the park, etc. It might be a bit easier if you were allowed to leave the 11-year-old at home by himself while you walked the dog with the younger ones, but given the autism the parents might not be entirely comfortable with that. DO NOT FORGET SUNSCREEN!! =)

    Building living room forts, video games, videos, making dinner together (kids LOVE food they can put together and assemble/personalize themselves – mini pizzas, build your own quesedillas, etc.)

    I babysat pretty much every day during the summer in high school (kids were 11, 8, 4), so it’ll definitely be exhausting, but have fun with it. And contrary to intuition, sometimes adding another kid or two to the mix can make it easier, so check with the parents if there are neighbor kids that are allowed to come over and play well with the others. (ie if the little girl has a 6 year old neighbor girl that she plays better with than her older brothers, sometimes it’s easier to watch two separate small groups at the pool or playground than try and integrate kids that don’t really want to play together.)

    Good luck and enjoy!

  • The younger kids would probably like making cookies, cupcakes, or a pan of brownies. You may be able to capture the attention of the older child long enough to cook, too. Let them mix up the batter, put it in the cupcake liners, or make a cookie that everyone would roll into a ball before baking, or use cookie cutters. Something like a Funfetti cake mix that has the colored sprinkles in both batter and icing would be something they think is cool ☺

    I agree with the craft idea, too. One year for a birthday party, I bought a craft kit that had a bunch of small plastic bottles of odd shapes and colored sand. The object was to layer the colored sand in the bottle, different colors, different thickness of the layers. That craft was the biggest hit in a long line of parties.

  • Mel

    My oldest is autistic and routine is paramount. We often have to do countdowns (in 15 minutes, we’ll be shutting off our Kindles and doing x then y then z; in 10 minutes…; in 5 minutes…). Understanding his routine will help keep the weekend smooth. I think both the 6 and 8 year old would love to do some crafts, like Kim suggested. If it were me, I’d draft a suggested schedule for myself based on their routine (meal times? snack times?), just so I had some order… but I’m very task-oriented, so it can get out of hand. :) Good luck and have fun!

  • Boys like doing stuff outside and grab toys and crayons. Never actually had to babysit a little girl before but I would assume tea times, dress up and making something. Take them to the park or let them play outside with bubbles.

  • @Kim, so it’s the 3rd day now. So far, the little girl is a total tomboy and we’ve enjoyed a water gun fight and building a dam blocking the hot tub to the pool. But she also had fun using stickers to embellish a drawing yesterday, so we did do a little craftsy stuff. :-)

    @Mrs. Pop, thanks for all of the suggestions! We’ve definitely made use of the pool, and yesterday we all went two streets over for a pool/hotdog birthday party that wore them out (running and swimming around with 5 other little boys can do that). :-) So it was definitely a great weekend.

    @Wendy and Kim, I think we may end up doing more craftsy stuff today since it’s raining…

    @Mel, I did make a quick schedule when I first got here since I definitely didn’t want to miss giving the 11 year old his pills or feeding the animals. It has worked well so far. Today is all rainy, so I see a lot of cartoons, board games, and crafts stuff in my future.

    @Thomas, I am planning another water gun fight this afternoon, rain or no rain. :-)

  • I will second what Mrs. Pop said…building a living room fort. My girls used to love to drape blankets and sheets over all the chairs that we brought in from the dining room.

    Also check Pinterest for all the things they can make out of cardboard boxes. Pinterest has a lot of great, cheap, fun ideas.

    (You are a saint!)